Flowering Shrub Options and Alternatives


S & J Nursery’s Guide to

Flowering Shrub Options and Alternatives for Gardeners 

for Northeast Florida


Choosing the right plant in Florida can be a bit tricky, so for many of us we tend to stick to the tried and true and end up bored with the same looking plants that you see everywhere. 

On one hand, there is a reason you see those plants everywhere. They may be easier to maintain without extensive plant knowledge, or have no major pests or diseases that can effect the life of the plant. All Very valid points for mass use of the same plants over and over.

On the other hand, it can get a bit monotonous to see the same plants everywhere. While it makes good logical sense for the landscape trade to stick with the tried and true, after all they are doing work for people who often do not wish to work in the yard or all out do not have time to mess with gardening and just want it to look as good as it can with as little help from them as they can get.  The rest of us as we drive through our neighborhoods of similar looking houses and similar looking landscapes,  dream of those magazine quality gardens with flowers and textures and colors with birds singing and butterflies flitting welcoming us home every day.

The trouble is, its not easy to have a landscape full of color. If it was easy of coarse everyone’s yard would look like it came straight out of the pages of Home and Garden. We can’t all be Martha Stewart and we all certainly don’t all have staff to plant the bulbs for us while we bake sugar cookies. The more specialty plants you have in a landscape, the more time and money the maintenance of that landscape will require. 

I love my nearly an acre yard with a ridiculous amount of Fruit trees, that is until its time to trim those sometimes thorny things and don’t even get me started on the cost to fertilize them properly! I feel like I am always picking up a bag of Citrus / tropical plant food for one tree or another that needs help. For me, I love to garden and being outside among the plants and animals is my happy place. So, although my yard consists of a few good backbone shrubs, an overwhelming majority of my plant selections can be found on the shrub options listing below. 

 Adventurous gardeners, or people who enjoy the outdoors like I do may want to brighten the view a little by planting things that may be less traditional for foundation plantings in one or more of the following ways… we just have to know what to expect so that we can plan for it or be prepared for the maintenance / winter protection etc. that that little bit of ‘extra’ will require. 

Here is a listing of the different things you may run into when planting that plant you fell in love with at the garden center. 

  • Can require special pruning techniques such as rejuvenation pruning during one or more seasons throughout the year. Or be particular about how or when they are pruned in order to look their best.
  • Can require special fertilizers such as tropical plant food, acid loving food, or just need more fertilizer and healthier soils to preform the blooming function than other more typical shrubs would.
  • Can be cold sensitive in our climate zone, and may be trouble free in South Mandarin or St. Augustine while completely dying off during the same winter temperatures in North Jacksonville or on the West side of
    Jacksonville. And so would not be considered reliable as an evergreen  shrub that is going to look good year round for all gardeners in our area.
  • May go dormant in the winter and not remain evergreen during the winter months as part of its natural life cycle. While gardeners from more northern climate zones are quite used to this idea, it can be a bit off putting to Florida gardeners used to everything remaining green right through winter.
  • Great hardy plants that are just underused or might not be commonly found in most nurseries or thought of when choosing foundation shrubs for the landscape but will make an excellent substitute for a woody shrub.

 

Plant NameThings to Consider Before Choosing As Landscape Plant Selection
Abelia GlossyMay be semi – evergreen
Abelia
Rose Creek
Why Not? May be harder to find
Abelia
Francis mason
may be semi evergreen- winter look to foliage
AgapanthusPerennial maintenance / division required
AgaveWhy Not?
Allamandacan be cold sensitive
Alocasiacan be winter dormant depending on selection / location
Aloe can be cold sensitive depending on selection / location
Almond Bushwinter dormant foliage
Bird of Paradise can be cold sensitive depending on selection / location
Blueberryspecial needs – acid fertilizer and soil PH
Bottlebrush
Little John
can be cold sensitive depending on location
Bouganvillea can be cold sensitive depending on location
Bush DaisyPerennial maintenance required
BromeliadCan be cold sensitive
Why Not? may be harder to find or seasonal
Bulbine orangeWhy Not? May be harder to locate
Bulbine YellowWhy not ? May be harder to locate
cactus
Prickly Pear
Why not? – perennial maintenance required, harder to find and difficult to plant
Camelliaspecific needs soil PH / shade
Cannaperennial maintenance required
Cast IronWhy Not? shade needed
Cestrum Pinkcan be cold sensitive depending on location – may be hard to locate or seasonally available
Cestrum Redcan be cold sensitive depending on location – may be hard to locate or seasonally available
Cestrum Yellow can be cold sensitive depending on location – may be hard to locate or seasonally available
Cigar Plantmay be cold sensative depending on location
will require yearly maintenance
CleyeraWhy Not? – may be hard to lovcate – slower growing
Colocasiaperennial plant needs – may be winter dormant – can be shorter lived/ cold sensative depending on selection and location
CrinumWhy Not?
DaylilyPerennial maintenance needs ( will need dug and divided every few years)
Duranta
Gold Mound
can be cold sensitive depending on location
Duranta Purple Showersmay be cold sensitive depending on location
Euonymouswhy Not ? – requires some afternoon shade
FarfugiumWhy Not – may need afternoon shade if dry soils
FatsiaWhy Not / – requires shade
FernsWhy not ? – requires shade – can be winter dormant depending on selection
Firebushmay be cold sensitive depending on location
Firecracker Red may be cold sensitive depending on location
Firecracker yellow may be cold sensitive depending on location
Firespike Redmay be cold sensitive depending on location – also has a rather large footprint
Firespike lavendermay be cold sensitive depending on location –
may be harder to locate or seasonally
Flax Lily Dwarf BlueWhy Not? – may be harder to locate or be available seasonally
Flax Lily variegated Perennial maintenance – will need to be trimmed off at grade every few years to keep it looking fantastic
Flowering Maple ( abutilion)Winter Dormant
Gardeniaspecail requirements / Soil PH/ rich moist well draining soil etc. Acid fertilizer / some shade is best
Ginger Alpinia pin stripe Why Not? – can be winter dormant depending on location –
Ginger Alpinia zerumbetwhy not? – has a large footprint
Ginger Curcuma Siam winter dormant – needs some shade
Ginger Curcuma Hidden winter dormant – needs some shade – may be difficult to locate or seasonally available
Curcuma variegated petiolata winter dormant – may be difficult to locate or seasonally available
Ginger Butterfly Whitewinter dormant – may be difficult to locate or seasonally available
Ginger DisneyWhy Not? – may be seasonally availble or evergreen / semi evergreen depending on location
Ginger Edible zingiber officionale Why Not? winter dormant
Ginger Pink VPerennial maintenence – may be semi evergreen or winter dormant depending on location – may be seasonally available
Ginger Costus
Dwarf French Kiss
– winter dormant – may be hard to locate or seasonally available
Ginger Costus
red button
– winter dormant – may be hard to locate or seasonally available
Ginger PeacockWinter dormant
Ginger TorchWinter Dormant – may be seasonally available
Ginger Shampoo
may be winter dormant depending on location or seasonally available
Ginger Variegated
Dr . Moy
may be winter dormant depending on location or be hard to find or seasonally available
Grass – Muhly PinkWhy Not?
Grass Muhly WhiteWhy Not?
Grass , Muhly BambooWhy not – may be winter dormant depending on location – may be hard to find or only seasonally available
Grass , Red Fountainwinter dormant
Hydrangea perennial can be shorter lived – requires acid Ph – winter dormant – needs shade
Iris African WhitePerennial – will need dug and divided every few years for best results
Iris African Yellow
Perennial – will need dug and divided every few years for best results
Iris Apostle Reginamay be evergreen or semi evergreen depending on location – perennial plant may require annual maintenance and dug and divided every few years for best results
Iris Rocky HuntWinter Dormant Perennial – shorter lived plant – will need dug and divided every few years for best results
Iris LouisianaWinter Dormant Perennial – shorter lived plant – will need dug and divided every few years for best results
Iris Walkingmay be evergreen or semi evergreen depending on location – perennial plant may require annual maintenance and dug and divided every few years for best results
IxoraTropical plant selection will need winter protection during frosts and freezes where temperatures will drop below 32 degrees
Jatrophacan be cold sensitive depending on location
Mandavillacan be cold sensitive depending on location
Mexican HeatherPerennial plant may be cold sensative depending on location – may need sheared to grade each spring for best results
Mexican Petunia Florida Friendly Myan Purple/ Myan pink or Myan Whitemay be cold sensitive depending on location – can be agressive in moist or wet soils – will need yearly clean up and trim for best results
Milkweed can be winter dormant depending on location and selection
Mock orange winter dormant – needs some shade
Natal Plum Why Not ? – may be harder to locate and some selections can be cold sensitive depending on location
New zealand Tea Tree needs excellent drainage – best used as a container plant
Night Blooming Jasminecan be cold sensitive depending on location
Oleander can be cold sensitive depending on location – may be hard to locate or seasonally available – sap in branches contains toxins that can be harmful to pets humans if consumed
Oyster Plantcan be cold sensitive depending on location -is considered invasive in tropical (not subtropical ) climate zones of south Florida
Papyrus Dwarf – can be considered cold sensitive depending on location – perennial plant maintenance – dig and divide
Persian Shield – may be cold sensitive depending on location
PentaPerennial plant maintenance – may be cold sensitive depending on selection and location
Philodendron
Split leaf
may be cold sensitive depending on location
Philadendron Dwarf Zanadumay be Cold sensitive depending on location
Plumbagomay be cold sensitive depending on location
Porterweedmay be cold sensitive depending on variety location
Powderpuffmay be cold sensitive depending on variety and location
Rose of Sharonwinter dormant
Russian SageShorter lived than most hardy shrubs, perennial plant
Sambac jasmineWhy Not? – may be cold sensitive depending on location and selection
Salvia AmistadShorter lived perennial plant selection – may be cold sensitive depending on location, expect winter look or dormancy
Salvia Black and BlueShorter lived perennial plant selection – may be cold sensitive depending on location, expect winter look or dormancy
Salvia Black and BloomShorter lived perennial plant selection – may be cold sensitive depending on location, expect winter look or dormancy
Salvia Bog SageShorter lived perennial plant selection – may be cold sensitive depending on location, expect winter look or dormancy
Salvia Indigo SpiresShorter lived perennial plant selection – may be cold sensitive depending on location, expect winter look or dormancy
Salvia May KnightShorter lived perennial plant selection – may be cold sensitive depending on location, expect winter look or dormancy
Salvia Mexican bush SageShorter lived perennial plant selection – may be cold sensitive depending on location, expect winter look or dormancy – may not have a long bloom season in NE Florida
Salvia Mystic SiresShorter lived perennial plant selection – may be cold sensitive depending on location, expect winter look or dormancy
Salvia Riverside SageShorter lived perennial plant selection – may be cold sensitive depending on location, expect winter look or dormancy
Salvia Rockin FuschiaShorter lived perennial plant selection – may be cold sensitive depending on location, expect winter look or dormancy
Salvia Tropical Sage (native coccinea) Shorter lived perennial plant selection – may be cold sensitive depending on location, expect winter look or dormancy
Salvia Wendys WishShorter lived perennial plant selection – may be cold sensitive depending on location, expect winter look or dormancy
Salvia Victoria BlueShorter lived perennial plant selection – may be cold sensitive depending on location, expect winter look or dormancy
Salvia yellow Forsythia SageShorter lived perennial plant selection – may be cold sensitive depending on location, expect winter look or dormancy
Shrimp Plant Why Not ? may be cold sensitive depending on location and selection, expect winter look or winter dormancy
Society GarlicWhy Not? – may be overlooked when thinking of shrubs
StokesiaWhy Not? – may be overlooked when thinking of shrubs, or seasonally available
Spirea Bridal VeilDormant in winter
Tibouchina
grandiflora
Tropical plant selection will need winter protection during frosts and freezes where temperatures will drop below 32 degrees
Tibouchina
urvilleana
Tropical plant selection will need winter protection during frosts and freezes where temperatures will drop below 32 degrees
Tropical Snow BushTropical plant selection will need winter protection during frosts and freezes where temperatures will drop below 32 degrees
Yellow Bells
( tacoma stans)
Winter dormant
Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow ( brunfelsia )Why Not ?